Fireplace installation and gas pipe blockages

Hi Peeps!

Fireplace installations can sometimes be difficult and other times, really straight forward, but it can be really frustrating when you are faced with problems that are only indirectly associated with the installation, especially if the problems have been caused by a third party!

One of my colleagues was out performing an installation for a customer and had almost finished the installation, when he found that the gas flames on their new fire were behaving erratically.

He did a number of tests, including cutting and rejoining a section of pipe and blowing through the pipe, which resulted in dust dispersing from the pipe and given this, deduced that the gas pipe system had been contaminated with dust, probably caused by builders who inserted the pipe when the house was built.

Unfortunately, this is a fairly common problem, although with this said; my colleague has not come across this for some time now. Builders insert the pipes, by pushing them through stone, which sometimes results in dust from the brick / stone getting into the pipe.

After my colleague had cleared the immediate dust from the pipe, the flames unfortunately continued with the same behaviour – he then came to the conclusion that some rubble / dust must still be somewhere in the system.

This can be a very serious problem because at any time, this rubble may become lodged in a thinner pipe section, thus creating a blockage, resulting in a hefty bill for the customer – locating the actual blockage could be extremely difficult.

It is really the job of the builders who install the piping, to check and clear all dust and rubble from the piping, thus ensuring that this does not occur. Of course, not every builder is as thorough as the next and sometimes dust checking and cleansing is not done and therfore the gas engineer is left to rectify the problem.

Anyway, if you are to have a similar problem with flames from your gas fire, then this article may help you to come to a solution…

Take care for now!

Buck 😉

Published in: on December 12, 2008 at 7:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A friendly fireplace warning about heating costs!

Hi All,

First off, I would like to appologise for the lack of posts over the past weeks. I have unfortunately had a string of personal issues, coupled with having to work has really bogged me down.

Anyway, on to the point of this article…

I recently (in the last month) did a test with a simple 1kW halogen electric heater – I won’t be stating the energy company in question for legal reasons, but I used a halogen heater to heat one room in my house for a period of a month and it cost me around 70 quid!

Absolutely astonishing – friends and I have been debating over the last couple of months at what is more expensive, gas or electric and I think I can say that electric is a lot more expensive, or atleast my test results have shown this – lol – I must say at this point; the Missus was defo not impressed 😉 lol!!

Obviously if you choose to use an electric heater, then you could use things like voltage controllers to lower the voltage and the cost and the heat, but I was chatting with my particular enerygy supplier and they said that electricity for heating was not the best choice.

It is interesting (something I tell my clients) is that if you are to use gas and get a new, high efficiency fireplace, then your energy costs could even cost you less than before. If you are to then go the extra mile and get cavity wall insulation, loft insulation and double glazing, then your heating costs can be dramatically reduced.

Anyway, the point of this article really is a warning to anyone using electicity to heat their home; it can costy quite a bit – the test I did defo emphasized this and I can tell you; we will be using our combi-boiler much more now!

Ciao ciao, Buck

A good reason for a having a rear outlet flue

😉 Hi Peeps

Anyone got a stove / fire, or maybe thinking about getting one?

There are many stoves that By The Fireside have installed with top outlet flues; whereas, they tend to install less stoves with rear outlet flues – well I tell you what..

There is a pretty good reason why you would want to have a rear outlet flue!

As a spacer!

One of our newsest engineers went to see a customer on Monday; they had bought a stove from us and had tried to do a DIY job. I will say, from what my colleague said; they had actually done a pretty good job, but had come across a frustrating problem that required a little guidance.

They had installed their new stove successfully and also shaped and painted their top board. The stove looked great, but was in a slightly different position to the one designed for. The customer had mis-calculated the size of the stove, in comparison to the position of the top board – the result; the stove’s position was further into the chamber and therefore, out-of-view.

Their original design meant that their stove protruded a little from the chamber opening, so as to allow the stove and it’s flickering flames to be seen, thus being a main feature to their room.

The answer we gave and a method to be used to prevent too much top board alteration; use the rear outlet of the stove opposed to the top outlet.

By using our proposed method, meant their stove was required to be moved out slightly to allow for the pipe at the back and therefore shifting the stove’s new position to the preferred, forward position.

I am sure that they could have worked this all out for themselves – they were apparently pretty savvy; they just felt more comfortable with an engineer helping out.

I hope this tip helps you?

Take care, Buck

Published in: on October 22, 2008 at 1:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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A small fireplace stove problem and fix!

Hi Peeps 😉 What a lovely day it is!

It’s been fairly tough this week – had alot on and I am glad to be here sitting down writing this.

It’s nice to get on the computer sometimes, as it can really make a difference – I love the manual side of designing and building fireplaces, but it is nice to do something other than CAD, where y’ hands aren’t getting dirty… 😉 (this is of course assuming I have a clean keyboard)

I had an interesting problem to solve at a customers house on Thursday, I actually went with a colleague as a sort of advice giver. The paint on the customers flue had disolved, due to the sealant that was used to seal the base of the flue pipe, to the top of the stove.

It’s interesting because we normally purchase the sealant from a specialist wholesale outlet, but having run out unexpectedly, we had to purchase an off-the-shelf product – (I can’t disclose the company or product, for legal reasons).

The purpose of me telling you all this is; given it was a product that is sold to the public, it could be a problem you may encounter in the future. I must mention here; this has never happened to us before, so their must be an element in the “public” product, which is not in the “wholesale” product that can eat paint away…

Not good eh?

Anyway, once we had established what caused the damage to the flue pipe, it was a fairly simple process to rectify!

How we fixed it?

We laid dust sheets down – this is one of the most important things to remember, so as not to damage anything else in the room. We then sanded the flue pipe down around the area where the damage had occurred. Incidentally, we used P60 grade sand paper to start with, as this is coarse and then to finish, we used P120 grade sand paper as it is much smoother.

The next thing we had to do, was to spray the flue pipe black, to match the colour of the stove – this was done using matt black paint and I have to say, when finished, it truely was a centre-piece.

Anyway, if you ever encounter this problem and need a bit of advice before you do the job, then comment here and I will lend a hand ;)…

Have a good weekend!

Buck

Published in: on October 11, 2008 at 12:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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Where to buy wood and Where to buy coal?

So, you are feeling the cold, have a need to turn up the heat, but… Gas is costing too much – 😦 seems to be a common story these days…

Don’t you think it’s ironic, that people of the UK are paying ‘through-the-nose’ prices, just to stay warm. The fact that stoves are making a real come-back is of little surprise and as such, I have been getting a lot of questions on where to buy wood and where to buy coal for stoves and fireplaces?

Actually, there are many places in the UK to buy timber for burning and coal too, although as you could probably imagine; with the influx of sales for stoves, the need for this kind of fuel has risen dramatically and to add to this, it is Autumn / Winter now and that also creates a need for the existing stove owners (not good).

As a word of advice; don’t go to the wood to get your wood – to my knowledge; this is illegal!

With this point in-mind, you can get pallet wood from a waste dumping site, normally for free – my mate is an Electrician and is always going to the local Dump – he often gets pallet wood for his stove…

Pallet wood is not really the best or most efficient form of wood for stoves as it burns quickly. My friend basically uses this wood and a bit of paper to get the fire roaring and then piles on the coal – the coal then stays burning for hours, but you do need the roaring fire to get it started, so therefore pallet wood does have its use and as it can be obtained free of charge, its a really good idea to say the least!

List of places of where to buy wood and where to buy coal

  1. The Internet – do a Google search
  2. Yellow Pages – go to yell.com
  3. Classified Ads – try Craigslist / Gumtree / Plus others
  4. Timber merchants
  5. Coal merchants
  6. Friends and family – ask around

It is extremely unfortunate (in my opinion) that many of the coal mines were shut and now there is a need for it… Laughable really… Not!

I hope this list helps..

Buck

Published in: on October 3, 2008 at 1:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A recommendation for the five most popular Huntingdon stoves

Hi All,

The following list describes my five most recommended Huntingdon stoves.

The Huntingdon 25

First of all, I am going to discuss the Huntingdon 25.

This stove is truely great! It provides almost all the features of the larger Huntingdon models, whilst at the same time being one of their smallest stoves available – the Huntingdon is suitable for burning wood, smokeless fuel or peat briquettes and has been designed with all decors in mind.

What a deal!

You get all that… 😉 and still in a small package!

The Huntingdon 28

The Huntingdon 28 is truely an elegant stove! With Gothic door mouldings complimented by reeded side panels, the ’28 really is a perfect design!

The Huntingdon 28, was designed with the latest advances in stove design technology and allows you to precisely adjust the flame picture via a single air control – Bonus!

This means that you can chill not with da still… And fully enjoy the movement of the flames!

The Huntingdon 30

Well… The Huntingdon 30 has a truely amazing heating capacity, making it one of the most ideal choices for a family home! It has no external riddling and comprises a single lever for flame and heat output levels, thus allowing you to control your own comfort – Thumbs-Up and Blue Flames eh?

Still with me?

The Huntingdon 35

Onwards and upwards… The Huntingdon 35 is available in a wood burning version with a solid cast iron base, or a multi-fuel version that incorporates external riddling. It also has a single air control for accurate regulation of the flames and combustion, meaning that this stove is a truely an efficient one!

The Huntingdon 40

And lastly… The Huntingdon 40… Probably the biggest Huntingdon stove available; and probably the most powerful too!

It comes with an immense 9kW heat output and could suit either a traditional inglenook or a contemporary fireplace setting, although in my opinion, it would be best suited to the larger room…

My Choice

My choice would have to be the Huntingdon 25, but I suppose it all depends on what you are looking for, or looking to achieve.

If it’s heat output and size you are looking for then the ’40 is prbably the one to go for – I just like small things I suppose…

Remember… 😉 All the best things come in small packages!

Take care for now,

Buck

Published in: on September 23, 2008 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fireplace safety for Children and your Home

Hi Readers,

I hope you are all well?

Well, the Fireplace season is now upon us; the weather is turning colder and colder by the day and the need to turn up the heat is almost mandatory ;)…

With the increase of heat in your home fueled by your fires or stoves, there also comes an inherent safety increase that needs to be adhered to, especially if you have children.

A fireplace or stove can get very hot indeed and can be very interesting for kids – those moving flames and cozy heat, a child could easily sustain serious burns if they’re not kept at a safe distance!

A fireplace guard is the answer!

There are many fire guards available in the UK, from tradional to contemporary styles; fire screens, 3-fold, 4-fold, fire box-cages and more…

I remember as a young child, my Mother and Father had a brass fire cage that was large enough to fit over the fire, the hearth and extend the width of the mantel – we got rid of it in later years (i.e. put it in the garage) as they became more trusting; still, they used to get it out when younger cousins came to visit.

My cousin John was prone to getting into all sorts of mischief – lol nothing changes…

Other Things to consider:

  • Have you educated your family about fire safety?
  • Have you got smoke alarms?
  • Have you got, or considered getting a fire extinguisher?

Smoke Alarms need to be fitted in all rooms in the house, including the loft / attic – even fit one in the shed – fires can still happen in your back yard / garden.

Fire Extinguishers are a good idea – you don’t have to have the large industrial canisters – most large DIY stores sell smaller versions.

Fire safety education is a must – most local Fire Stations can give great advice on home fire safety, there are short courses and seminars that can be undertaken and the Internet can provide quite a good source (although be sure that the advice given is from a trusted UK site).

I hope this information is useful – and always remember to keep safe while you keep warm!

Over and out!

Buck 😉

Published in: on September 10, 2008 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cleaning your slate fireplace hearth

Hi readers!

I hope you are all well – I made a reply recently to a Forum about how the best way is to clean your slate fireplace hearth and I felt that it was worth putting a summary here as it may help some of my readers!

Don’t do’s

  1. Sour milk – Some people suggest this. Although I have never tried it, I would imagine that it could leave quite a stench in your house, considering the fact that you need to regularly clean your slate and the effects of sour milk would probably diminish after a few days too.
  2. Linseed Oil – I have also heard of people using this, but in my opinion, this type of oil is a little bit too thick and also can leave an unpleasant odour.

There are probably other oils that could be tried, but always be careful of odour and thinckness…

My cleaning method

  1. First wash the slate thoroughly with warm water and a drop of wash-up liquid
  2. Leave it to dry completely
  3. Apply Teak oil – this is normally available in larger DIY stores and in our opinion is the right viscosity – it is also a reasonable price and most of the pros use it – Some showrooms sell slate oil, but this does tend to be pricey and I really feel that Teak oil is a better choice and does a better job!
  4. Slate needs to be treated twice in the the beginning, but then apply the Teak oil every few months, or when it is required.

As a pointer, Olive oil could be used, but this is as a one-off, as the oil could also leave an unpleasant smell if over-used…

I hope this post has been useful?

Until next time…

Published in: on September 3, 2008 at 8:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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A deeper look at fires, thatched roofing and safety…

In a previous article title – Sparks, wood for fireplaces and tree types! – I looked briefly at fires in thatched roofing and some of the causes…

I will now discuss some of these subjects in a little more depth.

There are a number of differing causes for thatched roofing fires. From the types of wood being burnt in house stoves / fireplaces to the design of the fireplace.

Home heating has evolved in the past 100 years – increased insulation and fireplace efficiency are factors with which older chimneys cannot manage and thus thatched roofs for buildings of this kind can suffer fire through heat transfer!

With older flues, magnetic thermometers can be fitted at the main exit, to measure the temperature of the passing gases. This is most certainly not a full proof prevention, but it could help to prevent a fire…

Thatched roofing should be regularly maintained by a professional thatcher – the location of your property can affect the frequency of this as could the materials used in the thatching. (It is advisable to check with a professional thatcher for your specific requirements)

A completely new thatched roof can help to prevent a future fire. With new thatched roofs, it is common that fire resistant insulation boards are laid before the thatch is put in place. It is important to check the details, as to my knowledge, these boards only offer a small amount of fire protection.

It is strongly advised that smoke detectors are fitted in the highest point of the roof – the alarm system should be wired such that notification alarms can be placed in viable places, such as; bedrooms and other living spaces, kitchen and bathrooms – your alarm system should also be mains-wired, with an uninterruptible power supply, for backup!

Electrcal systems and thatched roofing

Your house electrical system should be maintained regularly by an NICEIC approved electrical engineer and only essential conduit fitted electric cable should run through the roof space – bare cable should NEVER be attached to the rafters holding the thatch in place!

Television aerials should have a long enough pole that separates it from the roof – electrical fires caused by storms and lightning strikes are very rare, but not unheard of – therefore a lightning conductor should also be fitted. (Check the full details with your supplier)

General safety for you thatched roof

It is common place these days, that people have barbecues… I do!

What better, than on a sunny day, relaxing in the garden with a cold one and juicy burger!

But…

Barbecues (and bonfires for that matter) can be extremely dangerous when situated too close to a building with a thatched roof! It is important to remember that having a barbecue also coincides perfectly with the conditions required for a roof fire… Build wise – always situate your barbecue in a safe place with ample distance from your house. If embers do rise, then there should be no risk of fire!

As a last note; if you’re a smoker, then always extinguish smoking materials before you go to bed. Candles are great, but always use caution.. It wouldn’t be so great if a 49p candle cost you your house!

I hope this article has been useful?

Take care, 😉 Buck!

Published in: on July 29, 2008 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Stone for fireplaces – Part 2

In my previous article on stone for fireplaces I introduced the Travertine stone. In this article, I will be disgussing Portuguese Limestone, passing particular reference to Moca Creme and Semi Rigio – there are several others, but these seem to be the most popular!

Portuguese limestone is a beautifully smooth, almost white stone and as its name hints, 😉 is from Portugal.

Quality grades of Portuguese limestone have only slight veining within – blemishes found in other grades, should not be sold on the market!

Take a look at the image below!

As can be seen from the image above; the veining is minimal and thus produces a smooth creamy effect – a stone found with large blemishes, demonstrates a different kind of effect (rather like porridge with melted sugar within) not a blend that is commonly recognised as aesthetically pleasing!

Incidentally; I went to a stone show recently and a competitor had some of their products on show – I Have always wondered why they have been able to under-cut our prices? (we always use the highest quality stone)

And then… 😉

It jumped out at me! Literally!

I suddenly noticed porridge-like blemishes within the sides of one of their show-pieces – there were no blemishes on the front of the fireplace, but down the sides they were hideous!!

What did they expect (I wondered)?

Maybe they expect their customers to have a permanent plant, or similar object placed conveniently next to the blemishes to cover them up!!

I could not believe my eyes – I now know how some of these online competitors can charge such low prices – be warned!

A quality fireplace!

A quality Portuguese Limestone Fireplace, should look like the one pictured here!

Of course, if cheap stone is what you are looking for then blemishes can be hidden, but it is not an ideal choice and could ruin the effect of your room!

I chose to put the this particular fireplace in as an example, as we fitted one last week. The durrington, of contemporary design and a great centre-piece to any room… The client was more than satisfied with the finished product and his room effect was wonderful!

I have to mention here; had he been given a fireplace that had the ‘porridge’ effect, then hey… It would probably have been a complete design disaster!

Some questions to ask sellers:

  1. Do you cut out all blemishes?
  2. Do you craft fireplaces from the same pieces of stone?
  3. Have you got a showroom where I can see your fireplaces on display?
  4. Have you got any testimonials from previous customers that I can read?

I hope this post is useful?

Hasta 😉 luego…

Published in: on July 16, 2008 at 1:16 pm  Comments (2)  
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